Kenji Ross

est. 1980; internets since 1998

Killing Kennedy


National Geographic Channel
my role
Lead, Pitching, UX, Content Discovery, Sound Design

Consulting is a funny business. One week you're desparately trying to learn all you can about premium sub-brands of cat food; the next week you begin work on an factual, controversial, history-lesson of a project that you can't help but find fascinating. Happily, Killing Kennedy fell into the latter category.

We began work in mid-2013, about six months out from the 50th anniversary of the assassination. We dreamed up three different ways of telling the story we wanted - different modes of interaction and storytelling, balancing our visual and technical needs. Rapid prototyping all three methods allowed us to test the technology and quickly decide on the best course of action.

Our decision: a dual-scrolling, side-by-side exploration of the lives of Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy. For the first time in any project I've ever made, the interaction mechanic is the plot device: literally AND story-wise, the two men move in opposite directions, meeting only in Dallas's Dealey Plaza. Simple, but powerful in its implementation, this gave us the ability to juxtapose the two men and the way they reacted to similar events in their lives.

I wore a lot of hats during the course of this project. I sold the concepts through to our contacts at National Geographic, contributed to early user experience explorations, thought through social networking strategies, and sifted through hours of film, books, music, and archival photographs. I collaborated with our UX expert to create a new hybrid wireframe/storyboard process to put the plot together. Near the close of the project, I created diagetic sound effects and organized a small band to compose original soundtrack music.

Mobile and tablet were essential targets from the beginning. By doing an unusual bit of techincal exploration up front, we were able to develop the entire site to be mobile-friendly throughout development. We averaged the range of possible desktop and tablet resolutions, and worked with the designers to establish "safe zones" for their designs.

The reacion was extraordinary. We were featured as Webpick of the Week in Communication Arts, Site of the Day and Honorable Mention on Awwwards, and Site of the Day on The FWAs. I gave an interview for SSW TV. And it cleaned up at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, earning an astounding six lions.

Below, the promotional video we created for Mullen's portfolio.